Monday, November 21, 2011

Hollywood closes down?

"The town is closing down", my agent friend said after I told him I'm behind on two 1-page outlines for two Hallmark-type screenplays yet to write. It took me a beat to figure  out what he meant.

Already?  It's too early.

But, just like the fake Christmas trees at Target, the holiday season is on us. Thanksgiving is on Thursday and even Black Friday was early, a week early. I guess you could call it a "prequel". For those of you who don't know about BF, it's the week-end after Thanksgiving when retailers all across America pray for huge sales as Americans begin the Christmas money spending time.

Because if they do, they are "in the black" after a year of so-so sales.

And just like Black Friday, the movie and TV industry begins to slowly shut down their doors. Projects that have begun are finished or in the process of wrapping up. Executives and million dollar actors prepare to go to Aspen or Sun Valley or New York, Santa Fe and even Taos.

Studio labor begins to wonder if they'll be called back next year and for writers, new projects are shelved until the new year begins. Typically around the last half of January.

So my Christmas Carole script will be on somebody's desk for the next two months even if it's on the top of the stack. And nobody calls back.

I have two meetings set for the next few weeks which is quite nice and I'm glad to have them. With people who like me, too. 

Not that anything will happen. No deals will be made, just a "meet 'n greet" as they say.

Hollywood closes down often during the year, any holiday will do, Valentine Day starts a few days before, as do Father's and Mother's Days. Thanksgiving begins two weeks before as pumpkins are dumped onto empty lots and sold.

Christmas trees from Oregon will replace the pumpkin by Friday this week as well.

All in all, there's a lot of holidays in the movie and TV business. I learned through my TiVo that David Letterman takes a lot of time off. My TiVo records only first run shows and when a week goes by with old shows, my TiVo doesn't record them.

"Everybody's gone" my director friend Malcom says at least a dozen times a year. You wonder how movies get made.

And me, I'm off to Calgary December 18 to visit my brother and a number of friends from the time I worked there in 1979. We'll go to the Deer Lodge Hotel in the heart of the Rockies, where Ghostkeeper was filmed and have a great dinner at the Post Hotel where we got kicked out after Riva, the lead actress threw wine at me after the DP cameraman teased her.

Yeah, me. Not the DP.

But that taught me a lesson; and that is that actors need to know someone likes them, they're like kids who need to be praised and encouraged. There was a lot of trouble between her and the crew and I was the only one she could complain to. And that led to the wine toss, I was the only one she could trust.

Chris is gonna nail me for this, just watch. But he's one of the few who isn't like that.

So, it seems the industry is wrapping up for 2011 and once again we all reflect on what we accomplished or didn't. But I'll save my complaining for later.

And besides, the WGA party is coming up, December 4th, wherein WGA rents out the kind of hipster nightclub that no respectable writer would ever go to on their own, let alone afford.  It's an evening where we get one free drink and funny little morsels of food carried by aspiring actors who know writers can't get you a job.

It's kind of like construction workers finding themselves at Donald Trump's Christmas Party.

Last year my second drink, a Manhattan, cost me $16. Which gives me even more reason to never go there on my own.

So Hollywood has begun shutting down and for most of the industry, it's a shutting down that they really don't need, or like. And those who are not major execs or stars will courageously drive their giant leased Lincoln Navigators and Escalades and BMW 700's to Palm Springs or Santa Barbara.

Most of my friends will be going to shopping malls in the valley and maybe a day trip to Santa Monica 9 miles away. 

I gotta find richer friends.